MINNEAPOLIS – The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission Wednesday proposed a renovated Metrodome model that features a “football-focused” renovation of the facility as a viable, prudent and cost-effective approach to Minnesota’s stadium situation. The commission projects that its proposed renovation’s would cost about $259 million. That’s far less, it argues, than the $400 million to $500 million a new football stadium would cost–and that doesn’t include the addition costs for roads, parking, sewer, utilities and other site and infrastructure a new one would carry.

“Based on extensive research, the commission believes that the Metrodome is far from obsolete and can serve its tenants and the public well for many years to come,” says Kathryn Roberts, chair of the MSFC. She argues that a renovated Metrodome would substantially increase revenue streams for the Minnesota Vikings and University of Minnesota, whose Minnesota Gophers football teams plays in the dome, through clubs and other premium seating opportunities, special sponsorship areas, increased advertising, and enhanced suites. The renovation would take three years but would not relocate Vikings or Gopher football games (the Minnesota Twins and Gopher baseball and softball teams would play elsewhere, however).

But the Minnesota Vikings insist that it’s not possible to meet their needs by remodeling the Metrodome, and are promoting plans to have a new stadium built, possibly in conjunction with the Minnesota Gophers. Vikings executives said that the team studied the possibility of renovating the Metrodome for more than a year, and determined that with fixed walls and a fixed ceiling, there is not much that can be done. The Vikings argue that they have ruled out a renovated Metrodome due to costs, disruption, and lower-than-desired capability of producing revenues for the team.

The MSFC, which manages the Metrodome, argues that it has a unique role in the stadium discussion because it has been charged by the state legislature to manage stadium assets in Minnesota and has the responsibility to balance the public interest with the multitude of private interests. The commission proposes to increase seating capacity from 64,121 to 69,000, expand concourses, concession areas and restrooms, add club facilities with a separate concourse with 8,900 seats and increase luxury suites from 115 to 155. Renovation could begin in early 2002, the commission says.

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